Let’s talk about Christmas. Specifically? Let’s talk about Christmas with a kid old enough to get excited about Christmas. Because, y’all. I’ve waited nearly THREE DECADES for this!
Okay. That’s slight hyperbole considering I didn’t truly start thinking about what it would be like to watch my child’s face light up brighter than the fake pre-lit tree we got on clearance at Home Depot until those cozy quiet Christmas mornings spent sipping coffee as a newlywed. But still. I’ve waited 8 years for THIS CHRISTMAS. Christmas 2016—I’m looking at you!
This is our moment.
And let me tell you what we’re NOT doing: something my 3-year-old Wants, Needs, Wears, Reads. The big fat NOPE in this house would put Santa’s cookie-filled belly to shame.
I hear y’all back there with the fears of raising entitled children. Truly, I get it. And I absolutely don’t want to raise spoiled brats either. My husband and I work to teach our kids to understand the real meaning of Christmas and enjoy the holidays for more than the gifts they receive.
I simply think that — as parents — we’ve done some kind of drastic overcorrection from when we were kids. We’re so busy making sure our children don’t turn into raging consumeristic monsters that fill our homes with hundreds of toys (that we know will lose their appeal in six months or less). We push elf-based behavior reward systems and daily acts of kindness. We only have to give “the look” to get our kids to do the aforementioned kind act—with a smile on their face and gratitude in their hearts. (Or, in my toddler’s case, a little gratitude—but mostly the promise that there will be fruit snacks if he can just try really hard to BE COOL FOR TWO TINY MINUTES while we deliver cookies to the fire department.) And none of those things are bad or wrong! We should make memories and teach gratitude. I’m on board with those ideas 100% of the time.
But I don’t think we must do those things in lieu of enjoying presents.
In my little family, we don’t make a habit of treating our kids to things throughout the year. While we are certainly not lacking for anything, we do stick to a budget. We try to be wise with our purchases. As our children get older, they will be taught how to save, give, and spend within their means—just as we do.
So if our Christmas budget allows us to get our kids some fun things we normally wouldn’t buy, we’re going live it up! Yes, we may end up with some toys that will break a few months down the road. I may even raid the dollar store just to see my son light up at the sheer quantity of toys. At this age, I could get him $50 worth of Hot Wheels cars, and he would probably pass out from pure joy.
There will be plenty of time to buy him socks and jeans. These are the years of Legos and Nerf guns. And we are going to embrace them. One day, we will be buying our kids pullovers and Home Depot gift cards so they can buy pre-lit Christmas trees on clearance for their own young families. We have the rest of their lives to be practical. This Christmas, we’re going to teach gratitude and generosity and make non-gift-related memories. BUT we’re also going to have a little magic in the air and plenty of budget-friendly presents under the tree.